Public weighs in on school boundary changes

About 50 people attended a meeting Monday night to discuss attendance boundary changes in the Red Deer Public School division.

The meeting, held at Mountview Elementary School, saw discussion on not only the boundary changes, which will be implemented in 2014 when the division’s new elementary school in Timberlands opens, but the discussion also focused on elementary French immersion programming.

This was the second meeting of three. The first, held last month, saw 15 parents provide input to the process.

“We are very interested in hearing what people have to say about what we should consider as we look at changing the school boundaries come 2014. There are a number of parameters that I need to consider – finances, bussing, and the capacity of schools. But I am very interested in what I have to hear the parents of the community say,” said Piet Langstraat, superintendent of schools. “We also want to make sure that we just aren’t setting new attendance boundaries for 2014, but for five, 10 and 15 years into the future.”

What is driving the change is the new elementary school approved for the Timberlands area. Construction on that school is expected to begin this spring and open in 2014. With an initial capacity of 500 students, and designed for expansion to 600 students, the elementary school will be located at the east end of Timothy Dr., northeast of Timberstone Way.

Cathy Peacocke, vice chair of the Red Deer Public board said she is hearing that parents want the boundary changes to be convenient but what is most important is that the quality of education is there.

“If re-drawing the boundaries meant moving kids within their family, they were all for it if it meant it was the right fit for their children.”

Moving forward, Peacocke said the school board will have a difficult decision.

“Once it gets to the board and I think as we get closer and closer to making the decision we are going to start hearing from people that ‘Hey, this is really going to affect me’.”

She added the boundary change committee has not started considering any reconfigurations and won’t do so until the public meetings are complete.

“This is a big issue because it may impact the majority of our schools.”

A third and final public meeting will be held March 20 at G.H. Dawe School. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

“After that we will take all of the input that was provided at the meetings, come up with a number of scenarios and we’ll hold open houses in the spring to share those with people and to get their thoughts on them. In the fall our committee will be bringing forward a recommendation to the board of trustees for implementation in the 2014 school year,” said Langstraat.

To learn more about the public school boundary changes visit www.rdpsd.ab.ca.

efawcett@redddeerexpress.com

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